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BackerKit bans AI-generated content from its platform, including art for board games

The startup crowdfunding platform now stands in clear opposition to Kickstarter

Backerkit’s logo, a series of mountains with a flag on one of its peaks, on a yellow background. Image: Backerkit
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

BackerKit will not allow AI-generated content on its platform, which includes many high-profile board game and tabletop role-playing game projects. The announcement, made formal in a blog post on Monday, stands in stark contrast to its biggest rival, crowdfunding giant Kickstarter, which has no such restrictions. The announcement comes less than one month after AI-generated art in a Terraforming Mars board game expansion raised alarms among creators and backers alike. BackerKit’s policy goes into effect on Oct. 4.

“This policy emphasizes that projects on BackerKit cannot include content solely generated by AI tools,” the company said in its announcement. “All content and assets must first be created by humans.”

The San Francisco-based startup said its stance was informed by more than 10 years working with creatives on high-profile consumer-focused projects.

“At BackerKit, we’re driven to ensure creators are fairly rewarded for their hard work and creativity,” said BackerKit. “Due to concerns about AI tools using content without proper compensation or permission, we’ll continue to limit their use on our platform until there is a system that can guarantee fairness in sourcing, permission, and compensation.”

These AI tools, also known as generative AI, are controversial because they are fueled by the work of real artists almost entirely without their consent. Generative AI literally cannot function without a large body of reference material, which is often gleaned from publicly available sources like webpages, books, and individual works of art. But the vast majority of AI developers have demonstrated varying levels of regard for ethical norms. Some hold novel stances with regard to copyright law, while others simply use underpaid artists and students to perform as mechanical Turks. FryxGames, the creator of Terraforming Mars, said using AI would save its family-owned company money and boost its profits compared to paying human artists to do the work.

The issue of generative AI has made headlines recently, with the Writers Guild of America working on behalf of Hollywood writers to remove AI from studio workflows. Actors in SAG-AFTRA, still on the picket line, are concerned with similar issues, while video game voice actors share those concerns. Meanwhile, U.S. legislators are also considering the issue, with a series of private and public hearings underway. In August, Kickstarter added a mandatory AI disclosure to all of its campaign pages. But the Brooklyn-based company tells Polygon that the use of AI in no way prevents a campaign from going live on its platform. That won’t be the case at BackerKit, which vows to prevent the launch of or otherwise take down AI-powered projects that it discovers on its platform.

“Content on BackerKit that’s solely AI-generated or lacks a minimum requirement of human input may lead to the project being temporarily or permanently denied during the review process,” BackerKit said. “During a review, our Trust & Safety team may contact you to help provide verification that your content is within these guidelines. Violations of this policy after a project has launched could result in content removal, project suspension, or the project being removed.”

BackerKit also said that, as part of this policy, it will automatically prevent content uploaded by creators to its platform from being used to train AI. You can read the entire announcement on the BackerKit blog.

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